Schumann • Reimann
Scarcely more than two or three years ago, critics were still writing about ‘the young Wolfgang Holzmair’, much to the amusement of the seasoned but still boyish Austrian baritone. So it seems barely credible that Holzmair is now planning his Wigmore Hall farewell recital.
In 2010, with some degree of prescience, Wigmore Hall recorded this particularly noteworthy recital. Holzmair’s way with Schumann has always been special: his light, soft-grained baritone senses out the half-tones, the shadows, the emotional fragility of the composer’s Lieder – nowhere more so than in the Kerner Lieder, at last finding their proper place in the recital repertoire.
The cycle moves from elation to a gradual enervation of spiritual energy; and both Holzmair and Imogen Cooper are minutely sentient to its progress, even if there are times when Holzmair has to rev up his baritone somewhat forcefully at the extremes of his register.
Aribert Reimann’s 1966 cycle, Nachtstück, brings an Expressionistic response to the quintessentially Romantic poetry of Eichendorff. It was composed as much for the piano as for the voice, and Cooper responds perceptively to the piano’s anticipation and empathising with Holzmair’s lyricism.
The Reimann is artfully framed by six of the 12 songs from Schumann’s Eichendorff Liederkreis (Op. 39) – songs of existential exile and twilit yearning, sung with a moving simplicity in this particularly rewarding recital.